Workplace Issues

How to Tolerate a Multigenerational Workforce

There are legitimate reasons why workers of different ages have a hard time communicating with each other.
Kathy HoffelderJune 14, 2013

When CFOs and other senior executives evaluate their employees, they should not forget how the staffers grew up, says Tammy Erickson, CEO of business advisory Tammy Erickson Associates.

At times employees’ actions can be difficult to understand. But that’s because their upbringing varies by their age brackets, shaping not only their personalities but also how they perform on their jobs, relate to their co-workers and deal with their bosses, Erickson said during the recent CFO Publishing Women in Finance conference in New York City.

“It’s logical that different people would see things differently,” said Erickson. She noted that today’s workplace includes people from five different generations, which she labeled as Re-Generation (born since 1996), Generation Y (1980-1995), Generation X (1961-1979), Boomer (1946-1960) and Traditionalist (1928-1945).


“Each generation almost walks around like [they] are wearing a different pair of glasses,” she said. “It’s like we’ve got [our own] set of lenses through which we see the world. “What looks great to me through my lens might look really not great to somebody of a different age or a different generation.”  

In business, what one generation sees as a positive move might appear threatening to another generation. “It’s not that one of us is good or bad, or right or wrong, or better or worse. It’s just that we’ve grown up with a set of experiences that have caused us to have very different knee-jerk reactions. And it’s those knee-jerk reactions that form our first impressions of what we like in the world around us.”